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Collaborative Research

What is collaborative research? Why collaborative research? Who is eligible for collaborative research? How it should be carried out? What are the benefits of collaborative research? Collaboration is defined by one source: "To work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor" (Merriam-Websters 11th Collegiate Dictionary). The term collaboration is used to depict the all forms of agreement between academic institutions, corporate, universities, and any combination of such two or more parties who share the commitment to reach a common goal by using their resources available. In the collaborative research, the significant factors like time & cost being reduced to large extent because of sharing of the resources by the parties. Collaborations among researchers can take many forms. In a sense, there is a continuum ranging from the classic partnership between two faculty members at academic institutions, to situations such as the use by one researcher of another's resources such as a piece of equipment, a biological strain, or a database. The term "collaboration" in academic research is usually thought to mean an equal partnership between two academic faculty members who are pursuing mutually interesting and beneficial research. Today, however, many collaborations involve researchers of differing stature, funding status, and types of organizations. Even if the two principal collaborators are similarly powerful, a collaboration frequently involves several other people from the research groups of the PIs, including post-doctoral fellows, research staff members, graduate students, and/or undergraduate students.

Members of two research groups in different departments of the same institution work together on a project. All those involved meet together regularly to review their progress and plan for publication of their results.

A researcher from a private company works with the research group of an academic faculty member for several months. During this time the non-academic researcher pursues his own project while learning about current techniques and research questions from the graduate students in the group. In order to learn a new technique, the researcher travels to another institution several times over the course of a year.

Interdisciplinary projects occur when researchers from different academic disciplines are involved in a project in which, for instance, they are looking at a problem from different perspectives, or when a project involves a complex set of questions that cross disciplines. Sometimes, two or more researchers at different institutions work separately and yet collaborate on the project. This can occur in a variety of ways, but most frequently the researchers will be working on different aspects of the same project, exchanging data, compiling data for the entire project, and then doing joint data analysis, reporting, and publication. Another form of collaboration can occur when one researcher contributes something of value to a project. This may take any number of forms depending on the needs of project. For instance: While conducting a project, a researcher learns of a research method that would be useful, and could take the project in a new direction. The researcher then contacts a colleague who agrees to teach the method to him/her. Normally a significant intellectual contribution by each potential collaborator is necessary for the interaction to be considered a collaboration. However, perceptions of what constitutes a "significant intellectual contribution" vary. Members of collaboration, including those within a research group, should communicate clearly and frankly with each other in such a way that all members can answer the questions: What am I expected to contribute to this joint research project? Am I supposed to carry out the whole research work? Will this be a value-addition to my career? Will this collaborative research gives me different dimensions which helps me in teaching the students? What do I expect to get out of this collaboration? With whom I have to collaborate for this research work? Whether it is with the same specialization or with different specialization faculty member?